Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Year That Changed Everything

2011 is an unforgettableyear in my life. It tossed up challenges that I’d never had to face before in my whole life. It was like making tea, custard toast, chicken do pyaza and packing rotis with sabji but never getting a whiff or taste of any of it till the end of the day coz one’s got two hands and both hands were doing kitchen chores and endless tasks. Got the drift?

Well, perhaps it was inevitable that some of the bread got roasted instead of toasted. It was also inevitable that the year roasted and grilled a few friendships too. 

No, honestly, I’d give my best to all relationships but sometimes things don’t work out because, well, birds of a feather tend to flock together. So, I guess plain pigeons don’t really stick with the eagles. Know what I am saying? And don’t place bets on whether I’m a pigeon or an eagle. 

So, between flying low and keeping close to home as well as juggling lots of work, it happens that I had to prioritize my peace of mind over everything else. 

Hell, it hasn’t been an easy year. But I learned to make decent food in little time. Now, isn't that something? Don't laugh, ok?

You should try the sinfully simple custard toast I make. You’ll dump decent food forever.

Isn’t that a temptation huh?

The Storms of 2011
In Orhan Pamuk’s book Other Colours which is basically a collection of his writings and essays, there is a chapter titled “After the Storm,” he writes.

 “It is in times of violence, times of storms, that we remember we all live in the same world. Later still, as I was looking at broken branches and bicycles that had been thrown from their resting places, this came to my mind too: When a storm hits, we don’t just understand that we live in the same world, we begin to feel as if we are all living one and the same life.”

2011, for me, was definitely a year of turbulent storms. Nope, my arms aren’t broken branches yet.

Adi’s bicycle is not broken.

I haven’t been thrown out of home yet.
But then, ‘what storm is she talking about’ is what you are wondering, right?

Storms that matter and leave an impact happen from within. They hit you the hardest because they have the power to. The power comes from within.

Remember, You are tested where it hurts most
From the written works of spiritual masters, I’ve read that you are tested where it hurts the most. For me, relationships matter a lot be it in real life. And that’s exactly where God chose to test me. I’d give myself a just-pass.

Gratitude & Thanks 
As the year ends and a new year begins, I believe in the ancient spiritual law that says, “The more grateful you are, the more will be given unto you.”

My humblest pranams at the lotus feet of my beloved lord and best friend, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba for His love and constant guidance. Without His love, 2011 would have seen me crumbling, spiritually. Bhagawan's love, compassion and guidance has permeated my life for over three decades. All my family members are grateful to Him for His tremendous love shown towards us. Thank you, Swami.

For those who are cynical, let me tell you that ‘faith can move mountains.’
Each to his own spiritual path.

I am thankful to my family and all my friends whom I know personally, then on Facebook, and Twitter for their love, patience and understanding.  I am grateful to you all for reading my blog, spending precious time to comment as well. It helps me to grow as a better person and I am so glad that we are connected through this blog. Thank you, dear reader and friend. Your encouragement is what gives me the impetus to write whenever there is time. 

A Buddhist Prayer for Each and Every One 
In accordance with the famous meditation prayer that the Buddha taught His followers, I too offer that to you and your loved ones:

By the power and truth of this spiritual practice
May all sentient beings enjoy happiness and the causes of happiness
May they be free from suffering and the causes of suffering
May they never be separated from the great happiness devoid of suffering and
May they dwell in the great equanimity that is free from attachment and aversion.

As rightly spoken by Avvaiyar, “What we’ve learned is like a handful of earth, what we are yet to learn is like the whole world.

Wishing you all greater happiness, prosperity and well-being in 2012.

Stay blessed always.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Book Review: I can help Recycle Rubbish

I picked up Viv Smith's book, 'I can help recycle rubbish' and felt secretly pleased with myself. I like to recycle a lot of materials to create birthday cards, wrapping paper and make little gifts out of them. I also like to use these materials for my five year old son's school projects

Here's an interesting paragraph from the book:

"The paper you write on was once a tree that stood in a forest. Trees are cut down, taken to a paper mill. The wood is cut up and turned to pulp to make paper. We need to use the earth's resources sensibly so that there is enough left for the people who come after us."

Meaning of Recycling

"To recycle to make something new out of something that has been used before."

What can be Recycled?

Here are somethings I like to recycle:

  • Price tags of clothes are used as bookmarks.
  • Glossy supplements, glossy ads and leaflets are saved either to make b'day cards or to create something that is theme-based for Adi's school projects.
  • Materials like buttons, lace, etc are saved and kept in a box to add 'finishing' touches to b'day cards and other projects.
  • Little jewelry boxes, fancy sachets, all kinds of storable boxes can be used for different things. If you have three round shaped boxes, you can make a snowman out of it.
  • Same with old keychains.

Interestingly, I had read in Vanita magazine a story about a woman who recycles  any kind of cloth material. That really motivated me.  She talked about not wasting even a scrap of material. She would make rugs, hair  bands, bags with collage kind of work and beautiful shawls, sheets and scarves out of any material that lay wasted. She made curtains out of lovely, fading silk sarees and even made kitchen dishcloths out of old cloth scraps. Maybe we should all start doing such creative things to nurture the  'saving' mentality.

Now, would you like to recycle somethings so that it is not wasted?  

Think about it. Please.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Merry Christmas 2011

Dear Friends,

Hope you had a wonderful Christmas with family members and loved ones. For me, it was one of the best Christmas days I've had in quite some time because it was mostly about yummy food. I know that it is not what Christmas is about but this time, I let go and became a total foodie thanks to hunger pangs, so to speak:)

Lunch was just divine, so I stuffed myself. There was lovely red wine that sparkled and tasted like bliss with every sip. The plum cake had the distinct taste of rum and it was yummylicious! 

Fish cutlets topped my favorite dish of the day. They seemed to melt and yet be crisp when you bit into the texture of it. Then, there was fluffy, hot appams, vegetable pulav, mutter paneer, chicken do pyaz, mutton curry, mixed vegetables in dark oyster sauce, crisp pappadams that crackled with every bite and of course, the pristine raita.

Piping hot paalada is what I had at the end of this awesome Christmas feast. Obviously, I was stuffed like a turkey by the end of the Christmas meal! And at night, I slept like a log because I had eaten to my heart's content.

How was your Christmas?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Writer’s Room

If a keyboard is left on my desk long after I’m gone, it will be no more than four years old. It will have no patina, no aura, nothing more than my fingerprints on it. All the more reason to get to work and leave behind a stout body of writing. – Latha Anantharaman (The Hindu, 21st Dec 2011)

When my dad noticed that I (five years old at the time) wrote poetry, essays and short stories, he changed the plan of Sai Prema, our house that was being constructed in Palluruthy in Kochi.

He added a big room and called it ‘the writer’s room and library.’ He said, “Writers need to be in their own private world, where the intrusions of the external world do not penetrate their process of creation.”

Dad spared no effort in getting the best for that room. He installed a beautiful wall-to-wall rosewood library that crowned the spacious, library room. All my collection of books, hundreds of them right from the time I was a child, are showcased there in that library. And for me, Dad got ready a very big, rosewood desk with shelves and spacious little doors that were inbuilt into it.

People who visited my home were always surprised to see that I had a bigger desk and chair than dad. The thing is, Dad has a bigger heart that is full of love for his daughters.

Thank you, Dad. That room is your dream and it represents all that is beautiful and from you in my life.

That is my writer’s room. Some day, you are most welcome to see it too.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Start of the Day: Do Cities have souls with memories?

At the start of the day, I thought about cities and wondered. Do cities and places have souls like we do? Or so, I’ve always felt when I think of my love for Kochi though people say it is fast becoming a place that is flawed and devoid of what it once represented to its residents.

When I read Orhan Pamuk’s words, it struck me that I was not nutty at all. In fact, he thinks the same too.

“There are two ways of looking at cities. The first is that of the tourist, the newly arrived foreigner who looks at the buildings, monuments, avenues and skylines from outside. There is also the inside view, the city of rooms in which we have slept of corridors and cinemas and old classrooms, the city made up of the smells and lights and colors of our most cherished memories. To those viewing them from outside, one city can seem much like the next, but a city’s collective memory is its soul and its ruins are its most eloquent testimony.”

How do you view/experience your city? 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Start of the Day: Welcome December 2011

Start of the Day, I couldn't imagine that it is almost the end of a year. It's hard to believe that it is already December 2011. Seems like yesterday or maybe a few months ago that the year 2011 had been welcomed. How time 'flies - that was my first thought when the realization struck me. And you know what, I can't wait for this year to end.

Yes, like many of you, I too love December for a variety of reasons. The festive spirit of Christmas, the scent of home made wine, raisin and plum cakes, the decorating of Christmas tree, the choir singing, the joy of waiting for a new year to unfold - its a heady season indeed. It's also the best time to contemplate on the year that was.

For me, personally, 2011 has been a most difficult year to sail through, the tests and tribulations were unexpected, painful and difficult. But I think its made me a stronger person spiritually. 

I've read somewhere in Sri Paramahansa Yogananda's writings as follows, "You are spiritually tested where it is likely to hurt the most. If you handle it by surrendering to God to guide you to deal with it and without any negativity, anger or malice, you win the test and it makes you stronger spiritually. If you react by blaming God, comparing others happy lives with yours and constantly making others unhappy for your situation, then you have failed the test. The same test will come into your life over and over in higher degrees till you learn to deal with it and grow spiritually."

In that sense, I think I scraped through and managed a decent, just-pass because I entrusted my pain to God. Simply put, this year brought me tremendous changes that I couldn't possibly have dreamt of, especially in terms of spiritual growth and spiritual abundance. Unbelievable as it may sound, but every thought, word and deed that has guided me this year has been truly divine and a reflection of my Higher Self.  

Recently some one on Facebook asked me, "What do you do?"

I said, sincerely, "I make others happy about their lives by being there and listening." 

I really meant it. There are hundreds of things that I do. But what really makes me 'me' is when I make others happy about themselves. Being the reason of others' happiness - that is God's work. What can be more beautiful or humbling than that? Everything else ...well, does it even matter? Thank you, God.

To all my friends, thank you!  


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